Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club
Horton Spring Day Hike
when Trip Report : May 7, 2022
  Trip Report : November 6, 2021
  Trip Report : October 17, 2020
  Trip Report : April 27, 2019
  Trip Report : September 2, 2017
  Trip Report : May 14, 2016
  Trip Report : April 5, 2014
  Trip Report : September 26, 2009
  Trip Report : September 30, 2006
  Trip Report : April 23, 2005
  Trip Report : April 26, 2003
where Horton Creek, Tonto National Forest / Mogollon Rim
the hike     We have done this hike a number of times over the years. but as a round-trip hike to Horton Spring and back on the same trail. This time we’re going to do a more scenic and bit more strenuous counterclockwise loop hike to the spring, taking in the Derrick Trail, part of the Highline National Recreation Trail, and the Horton Creek Trail.
    This is one of the most spectacular hikes in Arizona’s Rim Country. From the campground we will follow an unsigned trail (actually an old Jeep road) uphill and to the east for 0.7 miles to its junction with the Derrick Trail. At the junction we turn left onto the Derrick Trail and hike gently uphill in an east/northeast direction for 1.4 miles through a ponderosa pine and juniper forest to the Highline Trail junction.
    We turn left at this junction and follow the Highline Trail north along the west side of Promontory Point, a major peninsula of the Mogollon Rim. This is a steep climb with lots of ups and downs, where we gain most of our elevation.
    After hiking the Highline Trail for two miles we begin a steep descent into the headwaters of Horton Creek. Here the trail turns right and begins a short half-mile climb to Horton Spring. We will stop for a rest and lunch break at the spring.
    After lunch we will hike the scenic Horton Creek Trail for 3.5 miles back to the trailhead. This trail runs parallel with Horton Creek all the way to the trailhead, passing many beautiful waterfalls along the way, some a bit further off-trail than others. Time permitting, we will go off-trail at some points to see as many of these waterfalls as possible.
•  Sturdy hiking boots
•  At least 3 liters of water
•  Rain poncho
•  Hat, sunblock, sunglasses
•  Lunch or snacks
•  Camera
distance 9.0 mile loop
time 5-6 hours
EC +-1600' elevation change
elevations 5360' (Horton Creek) to 6850' (highest point on the trail)
type loop
starting at
Horton Creek Trailhead 34.340977° N,  111.095018° W
on trail 100% — Horton Creek Trail, Derrick Trail, Highline Trail
rating "B"     Rate yourself as a hiker.
dogs? no
cost Sharing gas expenses with the driver.
The club also allows voluntary contributions of $5 per non-member.
weather Payson
meet 7:00 AM in the parking lot of the Target Center on the south side of Shea Blvd., about a mile west of Highway 87 (Beeline). For those leaving their cars behind, please park up against the north curb away from Target.
•  Take Highway 87 north to Payson.
We’ll make the usual McDonald’s stop in Payson for restroom breaks and any last-minute breakfasts (to go).
From Payson drive about 17 miles east on State Route 260 to Tonto Creek Road (Forest Road 289) near Kohls Ranch.
Turn left onto FR 289 and drive for about a mile to Horton Creek Trailhead. The trailhead is across the road.
Paved roads to the trailhead, suitable for all vehicles.

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updated May 19, 2022 © Copyright 2022, Arizona Trailblazers.  All rights reserved.